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San Francisco tech elite gain audience with world leaders at APEC CEO summit

A composite image of Elon Musk, President Joe Biden, and Sam Altman.
A composite photo shows Elon Musk, left; President Joe Biden; and, Sam Altman, right. | Source: The Standard & Getty Images

Musk, Benioff, Altman, Pichai, Biden, Xi and Trudeau. Leaders of the world’s largest economies will rub shoulders with billionaire tech titans in San Francisco during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit.

The event runs Tuesday through Thursday at Moscone West alongside the annual APEC Leaders’ Week and is expected to draw more than 1,000 business executives from corporations like FedEx, Visa and Pfizer. 

Also flocking to the city are a host of smaller companies and startups trying to get in on the action for a chance to toot their own horns, explore overseas expansion and lure domestic investment. 

READ MORE: APEC San Francisco: Everything To Know About Security, Traffic and Transit in 10 Maps

The summit is themed around “creating economic opportunity” in APEC’s 21 member economies and features a selection of word-salad panels with titles like “Enablers of Inclusive Growth” and “Navigating Pathways to Equitable Prosperity.” 

But the bureaucratic language belies the very real political and financial firepower of the event’s distinguished list of attendees. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect. 

Biden and Xi Headlining

APEC will be the venue for the first in-person meeting this year between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies. U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their bilateral meeting Wednesday in San Francisco, and each leader is expected to speak separately in front of CEO Summit attendees.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Friday the leaders would discuss the “continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication” and how they “can continue to responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, particularly on transnational challenges that affect the international community.”

Xi will also address U.S. business leaders during a gala and reception hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council on Wednesday, where he is being feted as the guest of honor.

Besides Xi and Biden, a number of foreign heads of state are scheduled to appear at the conference, including the presidents of Chile, Malaysia and Vietnam, along with the prime ministers of Malaysia, Thailand and Canada.  

Showing Off U.S. Tech 

The program of conversations and meetings will be supplemented with an exhibition hall showing off fancy new toys and technologies from American companies. 

One of the cooler examples is Wisk Aero’s sixth-generation autonomous air taxi. The Boeing subsidiary, based in Mountain View, is showing off its electric vertical take-off and landing tech meant to eventually ferry passengers. No word yet on rides inside the exhibition hall.  

Other exhibitors include FedEx, which is demonstrating its new BrightDrop electric delivery vehicles, and Meta, which has created an immersive augmented-reality booth for guests that will allow them to escape the Moscone Center’s security zone.

Showing Off U.S. Techies 

San Francisco is known for its deep ties to the tech industry, and an extensive list of ultra-wealthy tech moguls will be appearing at the APEC CEO summit.

Among them are Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is also scheduled to make an appearance on a panel with Google and Meta executives that is being moderated by Laurene Powell Jobs. Mayor London Breed will introduce the group to presumably tout San Francisco’s central position in the AI revolution

In one of the most anticipated panels, at least from an entertainment perspective, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff will have a one-on-one conversation with Elon Musk on the vague subject of “the future.” 

What Is Newsom Doing Here?

Fresh off his own diplomatic trip to China that included a meeting with President Xi as well as an unfortunate collision with a child on a basketball court, Newsom is back in his hometown for APEC.

Part of the reason is to bolster support for Biden’s reelection campaign. Newsom is hosting a fundraising reception for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday that Politico reports is expected to bring in north of $3 million. 

Newsom is also making an appearance at the CEO Summit, speaking on a panel entitled “Leading With Vision,” where he will share the stage with a somewhat random assortment of business and nonprofit executives, including Ertharin Cousin, CEO of Food Systems for the Future, and Omer Davidi, CEO of Palo Alto bee pollination startup BeeHero.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kevin Truong can be reached at